Companies had to ensure details of every vehicle on their fleet were on the database as part of the Fourth EU Motor Insurance Directive by January 20. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to £5,000.
The huge shortfall has been discovered by two major leasing firms. Interleasing estimates that more than 50% of fleets are not yet registered.
Research by LeasePlan in the days leading up to the deadline found that while 98% of firms knew about the directive, 45% did not have any reporting procedures in place.
Nick Brownrigg, managing director of Interleasing, said: 'While most fleet decision-makers have been aware of the impending need to supply details to the Motor Insurance Database, we estimate that the level of ignorance among smaller, owner-managed businesses is very high.
'There has been an overall lack of clarity regarding the communication of the requirements, deadlines and penalties surrounding the new legislation which has left most businesses in the dark. On the face of it, the requirements look simple, but the trend among many businesses to use blanket cover to insure their fleet of vehicles throws up some anomalies that can turn this into a real administrative headache for many companies.'
Penny Coombs, business project manager for the Motor Insurers' Information Centre, which is in charge of the database, confirmed that more than half of the total fleet parc – equivalent to 1.5 million vehicles – have yet to be registered on the database. Coombs warned that fleets which could not demonstrate reasonable grounds for missing the deadline could face punishment and fines.
Kevin McNally, LeasePlan's managing director, argued that the late announcement of the details for the Fourth EU Motor Insurance Directive had left fleets confused about exactly what was required.
The final legislation appeared only days before the deadline and many fleets reported trouble entering details on the MID website.
McNally said: 'Many of our customers have taken the route of totally outsourcing their fleet. As part of our service to these customers, it is incumbent upon us to provide data for the MID and help meet all the legal requirements.
'However, we have found that many of our clients who manage or part manage their fleet internally still need our help and expertise.'